7 Most Famous Canadian Sports Team Owners

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Canada is home to some of the most prolific and influential sports team owners contributing significantly to the country’s success in sporting activities. They own teams in the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Most Canadian sports team owners are the country’s top billionaires. These individuals have invested millions of dollars in their teams in the form of paying the players. They also have the mandate to build stadiums and training centers for their teams.

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Most Famous Canadian Sports Team Owners

Do you know who owns your most favourite sports team? Most sports personalities in Canada are well-known to many fans. Even many general managers and coaches get recognized by people who watch the teams play. What about the sports team owners?

This guide will explore the lives of the most famous Canadian sports team owners. You will learn about their business ventures outside sports and how they came to own the teams. Also, you’ll learn how the sports teams have performed under their tenure.

Here is the list of the famous Canadian sports team owners.

1.    Eugene Melnyk – NHL’s Ottawa Senators

Melnyk is one of the most prominent entrepreneurs and philanthropists in Canada. He is also the current owner, chairman, and governor of the Ottawa Senators, an NHL team. Notably, Melnyk has derived most of his wealth from the pharmaceutical industry.

In 1991, Eugen Melnyk founded Biovail Corporation, a global pharmaceutical company that supplied several pharmaceutical products. He served as Biovail’s CEO and chairman before Valeant Pharmaceuticals purchased it in 2010.

Melnyk purchased the NHL’s Ottawa Senators in 2003 at the cost of $150 million. The team is yet to win their first Stanley Cup under Melnyk’s tenure. Notably, Eugene Melnyk has a website where he keeps posting more about sports and business news.

When it comes to philanthropy, Melnyk has been an excellent example. He donated $5 million to St. Joseph Health Centre, located in Toronto. He also co-founded and financed the Rogers House, a pediatric palliative care facility in Ottawa.

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2.    N. Murray Edwards – NHL’s Calgary Flames

Murray is a Canadian billionaire who ventures in sports and business. He co-owns the NHL’s Calgary Flames together with Allan Markin, Alvin Libin, and Jeffrey McCaig. Also, he owns the majority of shares in Calgary Sports and Entertainment (CSEC).

Murray’s estimated net worth is $1.5 billion. He gets most of the fortune from his shares in many Canadian oil and mining companies. Currently, Murray has invested mainly in the Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and the Magellan Aerospace Corporation.

Notably, Murray is a lawyer by training but jumped to entrepreneurship at 28 to fulfill the promise he made to his dying friend that he would follow his passions. In the late 1980s, Murray launched a merchant bank along with a few business partners in Canada.

After starting the merchant bank, Murray and his team resolved to use half of their initial capital to drill a natural gas well, which later came up dry. As a result, Murray switched to invest in existing oil and natural gas assets. He founded Ensign Energy Services Inc.

3.    Francesco Aquilini – NHL’s Vancouver Canucks

Aquilini is one of the most successful investors in Canada. This Canadian-born investor has interests in many investments, including hotel business, property development, real estate, and other income-generating properties. He manages many ventures in Canada.

Francesco Aquilini founded Aquilini Investment Group, and he’s the current managing director of the group. This Vancouver-based company has several diverse subsidiaries, including the Vancouver Canucks and the Rogers Arena, with Aquilini as the chairman.

Aquilini had a 50 percent stake in the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks but bought the other 50 percent and the Rogers Arena in 2006. The Canucks are yet to win the Stanley Cup under Aquilini’s leadership. Notably, they have won six division titles in his tenure.

Not to mention, Aquilini is the current chairperson of Enthusiast Gaming, a digital media company in Canada. Aquilini Investment Group runs various investment opportunities, including the Aquilini Developments that owns and develops real estate.

Here are the entities run by the group.

  • Aquilini Renewable Energy: Invests in green energy such as wind power
  • Golden Eagle Group: Runs several recreational and agricultural businesses
  • Aquilini Properties: Owns and manages hotels and other properties in Canada

4.    David Thomson – NHL’s Winnipeg Jets

David Thomson is the most prosperous Canadian sports team owner with an estimated net worth of $39.4 billion. Along with Mark Chipman, he co-owns the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, which has performed incredibly in the National Hockey League matches.

Thomson is among the top investors in FarmersEdge, a company that provides digital agricultural solutions. The 63-year old billionaire also founded Osmington Incorporated, a real estate firm that purchases and manages commercial properties.

Notably, Thomson derives some of his wealth from Thomson Reuters, a multinational media conglomerate based in Canada. He started serving as the Reuters’ chairman in 2006 after his father’s death. The company has more than 24,000 employees.

Thomson is also an enthusiastic art collector. He owns a gallery full of art pieces from prolific artists like Rembrandt, Patrick Heron, Egon Schiele, and William Turner. Thomson inherited the love for arts from his dad, Ken Thomson.

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5.    Daryl Katz – NHL’s Edmonton Oilers

Daryl Katz is a famous Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist. He’s the founder of the Katz Group of Companies, one of Canada’s biggest privately-owned enterprises. Katz is a professional lawyer who now resides in Edmonton, Alberta.

Katz is the current owner of Edmonton Oilers. Before purchasing the team, he made three offers: $145 million, $185 million, and $188 million consecutively. Unfortunately, the Edmonton Investors Group rejected all three offers.

In 2008, Daryl Katz raised his offer to $200 million and finally purchased the Edmonton Oilers. According to him, Edmonton Oilers needed a new arena. His company partnered with the city to build Rogers Place, one of Canada’s most advanced sports venues.

Katz’s company, the Katz Group, runs many businesses such as real estate, pharmacy, and sports & entertainment. The Ontario-based Rexall Pharmacy is one of the firms the group owns. Katz is among the highest-paid executives in the Katz Group.

Katz’s philanthropic acts have touched the hearts of many. He donated about $7 million to the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Faculty of Law. Also, Katz gave $20 million to Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, in 2009.

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6.    Joseph Tsai – NBA’s Brooklyn Nets

Joseph Tsai became the rightful owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets after purchasing it from Mikhail Prokhorov back in 2009. He has only been the team’s top leader for a few months. Many are waiting to see how Brooklyn Nets will perform under Tsai’s tenure.

The Taiwan-born billionaire purchased Brooklyn Nets for roughly $3.3 billion. However, the team was worth $2.5 billion as of 2020. He first bought 49 percent of the NBA team in 2018. In 2019, he purchased the rest of the shares, solely owning the team

For the love of sports, Joseph Tsai founded the J Tsai Sports, and he’s the current chairman of the company. He also owns the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA’s) New York Liberty. He headed a group that purchased the NBA team. Tsai also has shares in the Major League Soccer’s (MLS’) Los Angeles Football Club.

In his business career, Joseph Tsai was part of the entrepreneurs that founded the Alibaba Group, a multinational holding company headquartered in Hangzhou, China. Currently, he is the group’s executive vice-chairman. He owns the largest shares of the company after Jack Ma.

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7.    Larry Tanenbaum – NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs

Tanenbaum is a Canadian entrepreneur, a sports enthusiast, and a philanthropist. He is a co-owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, an NHL team with a large ownership group. He only owns a 25 percent stake in Toronto Maple Leafs, but he is the NHL team’s face.

The prolific team owner acquired the first portion of his shares in 1996 for roughly $21 million. In 2008, he purchased more shares worth $100 million. BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications are the biggest shareholders of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Since Tanenbaum joined the NHL team in 1996, Maple Leafs has only won one division title. However, it is the second most valuable NHL team. Since Tanenbaum is part of the Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), Larry also owns the following teams:

  • NBA’s Toronto Raptors
  • AHL’s Toronto Marlies
  • CFL’s Toronto Argonauts

Tanenbaum also has a successful business career. He’s the current CEO and chairman of the Kilmer Group. The company focuses on real estate, private equity, infrastructure, sports, and media investments. Kilmer Group runs many high-profile companies.

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Final Words

Now that you know the most famous Canadian sports team owners, you can easily give an account of your favourite sports team’s owner, including their lives outside sports. All the sports team owners mentioned in the guide are successful entrepreneurs who own big companies and corporations in Canada. You can learn a lot from their lives.

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